Digging Deeper,  Specific Reasons to Journal

What is Journaling Anyway or Dealing with Journal Guilt

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I have journal guilt, I think. 

Long form journaling

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, mostly in regards to my own journaling. You see, I’ve been a morning pages writer for quite some time and, lately, it’s been a struggle to do this in the mornings.

The truth is I love journaling. I love the idea of writing down my thoughts and feelings. I like to be able to go back and look at the words I’ve written, remembering the day. I love the feel of a finished notebook (even though that can cause me anxiety – wondering where the next one is coming from).

But, I’m not doing my morning pages right now. At no real time of my day am I sitting down for that bit where I spend time just writing my feelings and thoughts.

And, I beat myself up for this lack of “journaling”. 

None of this is helping me with my journal writing.

So, back to the question – what constitutes journaling anyway?

Journaling itself generally means keeping a record of your thoughts and feelings etc. But does this mean that you have to sit down with a pen and paper for 20 or 30 minutes to consider it journaling? Does it need to be done daily for it to be of use?

These are the questions that run through my head when I am working with people and recommend journaling. Actually, the thought is “How can I recommend this when I don’t do it myself?” “You are a fraud because you don’t journal daily?” 

Yep, journaling guilt. 

I don’t always recommend morning pages now, even though I believe that these can be a positive thing in people’s lives. Simply because people, if they are just beginning to journal, sitting down and writing hand written pages can be overwhelming.

Even writing everyday can be hard for people to do so to not put pressure on someone is helpful. 

Once I discovered that there is no right or wrong way to journal, my usual advice is do the best you can. Oh, and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t.

Why can’t I do that with myself? What makes it so easy to tell someone else to be gentle with themselves, but not me? That is the question.

A journal entry can be so many things. It can be a line in your planner. It can be snippets of gratitude that you put into an online diary. It can be a weekly check in where you write down all the high, or low, points of the previous week. 

The point is it doesn’t matter what you write, how long you write, even where or when. Creating a record of your thoughts, feelings, or life is what you decide it is. It is making your journal work for you and not the other way around.

Believing that you ‘must’ journal and do it in these certain ways leads to journal guilt, which is unhelpful. It takes away the beauty of the journaling process and the possibilities that journaling creates. And, it is a beautiful process.

Acceptance

I’m dealing with my own journal guilt. There is no easy way to do this except for acceptance. 

Accept that there are other ways to write my thoughts and record my life. And, that these can be very different than what is considered “normal” journaling.

  • Accept that I am human and I don’t always feel like writing.
  • Accept that sometimes the words just aren’t there.
  • Accept that I get tired of dealing with my s**t and it is okay to set it aside for a while.
  • Accept that one more thing on my to-do list is just not possible for today.

Although I’m not giving up on morning pages, they just aren’t working for me right now. And other forms of long journaling aren’t as appealing either.

Dealing with Journal Guilt

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

What I have been doing is checking in with my planner – which just happens to be a bullet journal – every day. 

Bullet journaling is something that seem’s “hot” right now and there are tons of videos and informational how-to’, all you have to do is google it. I will be talking about bullet journals in later posts so I’m not going to cover that here. 

My bullet journal has allowed me freedom to plan my life the way it works for me. It has giving me a place to put everything in personal, professional, and yes, even a way to journal. I simply make notes to myself.

And then, I need to remind myself that this too, is journaling.

I am checking with myself every day. I do look over my day and even write those things that bring me joy (rather than gratitude – more on that later). I am journaling every day, even if it doesn’t look the same as I once did it. And that is what keeps me sane. 

At some point, I will go back to regular journal entries. I’m still deciding if these need to go in my bullet journal or not since the beauty of #bujo is the flexibility to do so. But for now, this is working for me. 

Now, I just need to let go of all of my journal guilt and enjoy the process.

Leave a comment below if you’ve ever experienced journal guilt and don’t forget to subscribe.

Until next time,

Angela

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